Patella tendinopathy (patella tendonitis) is a condition that results in pain felt over the tendon that attaches from the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone. The patella tendon works together with the patella and quadriceps muscles to straighten the knee, and absorb force, for example when jumping and landing. Harris & Ross regularly treat this condition- find out more about it and our treatment options below-
Patella Tendon and Quadriceps Function
The quadriceps muscles are important in controlling knee movement in every day movements like going up and down stairs, as well as in sports that involve, jumping, changing direction, kicking and running. Jumping activities require a big explosive contraction from the quadriceps, and similarly on landing the quads and patella tendon are required to absorb large forces to control knee movement.
Patella tendinopathy is an overuse injury that leads to the tendon becoming weak as a result of being overstressed. Repetitive jumping and landing with excessive force can lead to low-level trauma to the tendon. If this continues then the rate of tendon being broken down by the body may exceed the rate of new healthy tendon being produced. This causes changes within the tendon, it weakens and is then less able to tolerate load. This degeneration of the tendon is referred to as tendinopathy.
It is common amongst sports requiring such as basketball, rugby and football, as well as track and field athletes.
Common causes for patella tendinopathy include:
- Fast increase in the volume of training
- Spike in training intensity
- Excessive load
- Quadriceps weakness
- Gluteal weakness
- Poor flexibility
- Poor biomechanics
Signs and Symptoms
Common symptoms of patella tendinopathy involve:
- Tenderness over the patella tendon
- Tendon may look thicker compared to the other side
- Pain worse with jumping, kicking, running,
- Tendon can feel stiff in the morning
Treatment involves conservative physiotherapy with an emphasis on reducing load and graded strengthening.
Physiotherapy treatment may include:
- Reducing load of exercise
- Strengthening (isometric, concentric, eccentric)
- Re-training good movement patterns
- Correcting biomechanical errors
- Soft tissue release
- Orthotics (if appropriate)
- Return to running / sport specific exercise program
Surgery is a last resort only considered after a long and concerted effort at conservative rehabilitation has failed. Patella tendinopathy does respond to good rehabilitation but it is important to realise that it is not a quick fix. Quality rehab over 3-6 months is the reality for good outcomes.
If you have a patella tendinopathy and would like to make an appointment for an initial physio assessment at our Manchester, Wilmslow, Altrincham or Wigan clinics call Harris & Ross on 0161 832 9000 or click the book now icon below.